Liver transplantation for homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia

Yasushi Ishigaki, Naoki Kawagishi, Yutaka Hasegawa, Shojiro Sawada, Hideki Katagiri, Susumu Satomi, Shinichi Oikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Pharmacological treatments to decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (LDL-C) have limited effects on patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH). Since LDL receptors are located mainly in the liver, liver transplantation is considered to be the only way to correct the hepatic cholesterol metabolism abnormalities in HoFH. Liver transplantations, including those combined with heart transplantation, for HoFH have been increasing since 1984, making this a globally established therapeutic option for HoFH. Plasma LDL-C is reported to be dramatically lowered, by 80%, after transplantation, with the rapid regression of cutaneous and tendinous xanthomas. However, long-term cardiovascular benefits remain unclear. The major concerns about liver transplantation include surgical complications, the need for lifelong immunosuppressive therapy, and rejection. In addition, organ transplantations from deceased donors are extremely rare in Japan. We experienced two pediatric siblings with HoFH who received living-donor liver transplantations from their heterozygous parents. Their plasma LDL-C levels decreased immediately and stabilized at approximately 200 mg/dL. Both developed normally with the administration of lipid-lowering medications and have been free of severe problems for more than 10 years, to date, since transplantation. In Japan, where the shortage of deceased donors is critical, the combination of living-donor liver transplant from a heterozygous donor, that is, usually a parent, and medication is regarded as a valid therapeutic option for HoFH. Further studies and clinical experience are required to establish liver transplantation as a safe and effective treatment for HoFH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cholesterol metabolism
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia
  • Liver transplantation


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